Trump Thinks “Trade Isn’t Tricky”



Ed Gerwin | Progressive Policy Institute

The mounting damage to America’s economy and global standing from President Trump’s trade policies illustrates the peril of ignoring the complexity of trade.

When economic historians recount U.S. trade policy under Donald Trump, they’ll tell a cautionary tale. Like the current consensus that the Smoot-Hawley tariffs worsened the Great Depression and tanked global trade, future analysts will detail the negative economic effects of Trump’s go-it-alone trade policies. And historians will draw from a treasure trove of quotes from the “Tariff Man,” who famously said that “trade wars are good and easy to win.”

Perhaps no quote better captures the essence — and dysfunction — of Trump’s trade policies than his claim that “trade isn’t tricky.” Trump sees trade as a straightforward, black-and-white issue. As a result, he’s pursued simplistic — often blunt-force — solutions. Trump’s failure to appreciate the complexity of the interconnected global economy is perhaps the greatest source of the long-term damage that his policies are causing to America’s economy and global standing.

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